The Land Rover Defender followed the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen: Both faced extinction earlier in the millennium, both have rebounded into wider and more profound popularity than previously known. The biggest difference between them is that the G-Class was revived after a low ebb, whereas the Defender died and was resurrected. This gives Land Rover the benefit of two kinds of Defenders to celebrate, and here’s another huzzah for the original. Land Rover Classic has created a limited edition based on the brand’s origin lore. It’s called the Land Rover Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition, built on the Defender Works V8 as last year’s Trophy II Edition. The foundation is a wagon restored with parts from donor vehicles made from 2012 to 2016, powered by a 5.0-liter V8 with 399 horsepower shifted through an eight-speed automatic, upgraded with a new suspension and LED lighting.
The hallmark bits glorify co-founder Spencer Wilks, on the more managerial side of Land Rover’s inception while brother and co-founder Maurice was more about the engineering. Spencer drove a Series IIa and early prototypes around his Laggan Estate on Islay, the fifth-largest Scottish Island located off the country’s southwest coast. His Series IIa is on display in the Land Rover Classic collection. On one of his trips around the property, he was driving a Land Rover mule cobbled atop a heavily modified Rover car platform. When estate gamekeeper Ian Duncan saw the test vehicle, he’s reported to have asked Wilkins if he was driving “a Land Rover.”
That’s where the company name came from, the new Works V8 is inspired by the museum-piece Series IIa. It’s finished in Heritage Gray with matching wheel arches, a nod to the Mid Grey on the original, with Limestone roof and steel wheels. A classic grille is paired with classic Land Rover badging from the front fascia to the mudflaps. A discrete “GXC 639C” along the side recalls the license plate on Wilks’ Series IIa.
The cab fits premium Ebony leather Defender seats ahead of an instrument panel with Heritage Grey accents plus carpeted footwells. The Islay Woollen Mill produced a special tweed that appears on the seats, door cards, arm rests and sun visors, its blue, purple, green and yellow hues cued off the Islay landscape. Then there’s the stowage space and cupholders trimmed with oak from Kilchoman distillery whiskey barrels. Wilks’ granddaughter Kathy Wills founded the Kilchoman distillery with husband Anthony in 2005. For this occasion, Kilchoman’s produced a special “639” whiskey to go with the Islay Edition Defender.
Land Rover Classic will make 30 examples, 17 as a short wheelbase 90, 13 as a seven-seater 110. Pricing starts at £230,000 ($290,100 U.S.) for the 90, £245,000 ($309,000 U.S.) for the 110.